Clipless Bikepacking Shoes: Five Ten Maltese Falcon Race

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The Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT all-mountain shoe is a great SPD bikepacking option with a lightweight design, water resistance, rugged construction, and the near perfect blend of stiffness and comfort.

When it comes to bikepacking shoes, three requirements come to mind: 1. soles stiff enough for long and/or technical rides; 2. reasonable weight; 3. soles not too rigid for off-the-bike comfort and hikeability. In a lot of respects, I find bikepacking gear requirements similar to those in the ‘all-mountain’ category… not quite XC, but not as aggressive as the free ride variety; it’s more about features and function that enable all-terrain adventure. Fortunately, a lot of companies have been listening to the marketplace and developing products that fall in to this in-between niche.

Five Ten Maltese Falcon - Bikepacking Shoes

Five Ten has long dominated the flat pedal shoe market with their ultra-sticky 5-10 Stealth Rubber, comfortable design, and stylish skate kick aesthetic. Their offerings have also proven to be exceptionally durable (see my 7,500 km review of the Aescent). So when it came time to replace my old Lake SPDs, I quickly investigated several new offerings from Five Ten, including the Maltese Falcon LT. It was immediately clear that they stepped up their game and created a promising and versatile shoe that crossed into the all-mountain segment, and would be a good fit for bikepacking.

Five Ten Maltese Falcon - Bikepacking Shoes

Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Highlights

  • Stiff yet comfortable Stealth S1 Rubber sole
  • Water repellant synthetic upper
  • Reasonably light at 932 grams for the pair
  • Rugged materials and design
  • MSRP $140

Five Ten Maltese Falcon - Bikepacking Shoes

Fit and Form

Perhaps the most important factor in making a shoe decision is fit. I have always read that Five Ten shoes run wide and are better for folks with hefty flippers. However, I have fairly narrow feet and both my Aescents and the Maltese Falcons fit snugly. There was a slight break in period. Upon the first couple of rides, a little bit of soreness ensued around my pinky toe, but that quickly resolved itself and I ultimately found these shoes to be quite comfortable, even after long 50+ mile days.

Normally for those who ride SPDs, and who are somewhat weight-conscious, the typical options are bright, sporty, and super-stiff plastic XC shoes. There aren’t too many ‘in-between’ options in the lighter weight variety. Five Ten seems to have thought this through and developed a shoe that is fairly light, minimally styled, fit for adventure, and unobtrusive on the eyes.

Five Ten Maltese Falcon - Bikepacking Shoes

Function and Performance

The sole is surprisingly stiff for a lightish trail shoe. It provides a solid pedaling platform while maintaining enough flexibility to make hiking and walking tolerable. Many the longer rides I do in Pisgah and the Appalachians require a bit of hike-a-bike, so the proper balance of comfort and stiffness is important. The sticky Stealth rubber outsoles provide an approach shoe like grip on rocks, roots, and logs which makes for excellent traction over technical hike-a-bike terrain.

In the past, with other SPD shoes, I’ve had issues with heel slippage. At times this led to blisters after a long day of grunting up the steeps. The Maltese Falcons have proven exceptionally comfortable for hikes and I have not had this issue at all during two 5 day bikepacking trips, both of which had a fair share of pushwhacking.

Five Ten Maltese Falcon - Bikepacking Shoes

Water resistance and breathability

I found the Maltese Falcon to have both good water shedding characteristics, and decent drying properties. They do get wet, but it takes more than a splash or a sprinkle to do it, and if given the chance, they seem to dry out quickly. On a recent bikepacking trip the sky dished out a proper soaking on the third day. That evening I removed the soles, set them out, and by morning they were dry and ready for another day. They aren’t the most breathable shoes, but they aren’t bad either.

Five Ten Maltese Falcon - Bikepacking Shoes

Durability and the Bottom Line

This pair has been on two big 5 day trips and many singletrack rides since I got them back in August. Other than a few scuffs, there are no signs of degradation at all. The durable construction and rugged materials that make up the Maltese Falcon offer a protective shell to shield your feet while hiking or riding burly, technical terrain.

All-in-all the Five Ten Maltese Falcon LTs are a solid, comfortable, and durable shoe with an optimal blend of power and flex.

Update (9/14/15)
After riding the Maltese Falcon Race for over a year now (two pairs to be exact) I found a couple of flaws. The first is that when using the Falcon on routes with extended hike-a-bikes, it takes a toll on cleats. The soft rubber that forms the shallow pedal contact area around the cleat bed wears out and allows the cleats to be exposed. In turn, rocky terrain grinds away at the soft metal. The other issue is float. The pedal contact area is soft and wears quickly which allows the shoe to move around a little too much on the pedals. In short, the pedal recess isn’t quite cozy enough after being broken in by miles of use. It’s still a great and comfortable shoe, but the sole has some durability issues when it comes to hike-a-bikes; also, it’s worth noting that these observations come after a whole lot of use. Five Ten has updated the Maltese Falcon for 2016, although we’ve yet to test it.

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  • anton_88

    Thanks, I might look into a pair. Are there any alternatives?

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    I had Lakes before and liked them. Giro makes a nice enduro style shoe…

  • Wayne

    Have a look at Offroad Crocs. Seriously! Waterproof, breathable, featherweight, stiff enough to bike and hike in — and cheap. Since the toes are closed in, the wind doesn’t blow through as much when riding in cool temps. The foam is great insulation so they stay warm at low temperatures in camp. I’ve actually shoveled my sidewalk at 20 below (degrees C) in them with thick wool socks and never felt the cold. The original crocs were okay but the back strap would slide down/off. The Offroads have fixed that with a velcro arrangement. MUCH better!

    http://www.crocs.com/crocs–off-road/10011,default,pd.html

    http://ultralightcycling.blogspot.ca/p/equipment-reviews_12.html (original style — not half as good — reviewed down the page. The Offroad versions fix all of his negatives)

  • Wayne

    The Crocs I mentioned, of course, are not clipless. The Keen Commuter IIIs are though and I also use them (with wool socks or Goretex socks or no socks). With platform pedals, the Crocs are lighter and do the trick.

  • Andrew Spurlin

    Logan, any thoughts on riding on nice spikey platform pedals in these shoes?
    I started a tour two weeks ago, and am now laid over in a town nursing two very sore Achilles’ tendons. Suggestions on causes and rehab are many, one of which is running a stiffer and/or clipless shoe. I’ve been riding on nice wide platform pedals with a really flexy ( almost minimalist) running shoe.
    I figure that jumping headfirst into the world of spd opens a can of worms regarding cleat position and my injury. With a shoe like this that looks decently grippy, I could keep the exact same bike fit and transition down the road to clipless pedals If need be. Without buying two new expensive pairs of shoes.

    Sorry to bog down my actual question. I’m simply asking how the five tens would work as a shoe for flats. If you have any personal experience with Achilles issues, that’s also welcome.

  • Kyle

    Logan, I bought these after seeing you in your first pair at our happenstance meeting in the George Washington NF. They are the best shoes I’ve had in nearly 30 years of experience with one inexcusable flaw: even before the soles wear, a Shimano SH-51 cleat protrudes beyond the sole’s depth, making for a nice tap dancing dog, but not so much slippery rock in winter creek crosser. I hope they fix this, as the whole point behind SPD in the first place is the concept “recessed.”

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